THURSDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- Depression appears to increase the risk of kidney failure, according to a new study.

Depression was linked to a higher rate of hospitalization for acute kidney injury (formerly known as acute kidney failure), even after adjusting for heart disease, inflammatory markers, and lifestyle factors such as body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity, according to the investigators.

The study, led by Dr. Willem Kop of the Department of Medical Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Tilburg, the Netherlands, included 5,785 people in the United States who were followed for 10 years. At the start of the study, the participants were 65 years and older and were not on kidney dialysis.

The researchers found that depression was also associated with a higher prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) at baseline. It was 20 percent more common in people with chronic kidney disease than in those without the disease.

The study appears online March 10 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"People with elevated depressive symptoms have a higher risk of subsequent adverse kidney disease outcomes. This is partially explained by other medical factors related to depression and kidney disease. But the association with depression was stronger in patients who were otherwise healthy compared to those who had co-existing medical disorders such as diabetes or heart disease," the researchers wrote in a journal news release.

The researchers are currently examining factors that may explain the link between depression and kidney disease and failure. These could include delays in seeking medical care, the effect that depression has on the immune and nervous systems, and miscommunication between patients and doctors.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.